During this year’s legislative term, Vermont lawmakers passed the Employment Protection for Crime Victims Law (HB 711) adding crime victim status to the list of characteristics which are protected from employment discrimination. The law protects both employees and job applicants who are crime victims from discriminatory employment practices and retaliation. The law also requires employers to provide employees who are crime victims with job-protected, unpaid leave to attend crime-related legal proceedings. The law went into effect on July 1, 2018.
The new law requires all Vermont employers to post a notice of crime victims’ rights in the workplace. The Employment Protections for Victims of Crime – Notice of Employee Rights is the official notice that employers must post which describes the main features of the law. The Notice of Employee Rights informs victims of crime that they are protected from harassment or other the discrimination based on their status as a crime victim and their right to take leave to attend related legal proceedings.
Who is a Crime Victim?
The Notice of Employee Rights identifies a “crime victim” as a person who has:
- obtained a court order based on abuse of a family or household member
- obtained a court order against stalking or sexual assault
- obtained a court order based on abuse of a vulnerable adult
- sustained injury as a result of a crime and is identified as a crime victim in a law enforcement affidavit
When can Crime Leave be Taken?
The Notice of Employee Rights advises employees that the crime victim leave may used to attend:
- criminal proceedings where the employee has the right or obligation to appear at the proceedings
- proceedings for relief from abuse, neglect or exploitation where the employee is the plaintiff
- hearings to obtain an order against stalking or sexual assault
What Protections Do Crime Victims Have?
While on crime victim leave, an employee may use sick leave, vacation or any other accrued paid time off. While on crime victim leave, employees also continue to receive employment benefits. When they return from crime victim leave, employees have the right to the same job or a comparable job.
In addition to the information provided on the posted Notice of Employee Rights, employers should also be aware that:
- crime victim leave applies to employees who have been continuously employed by the same employer for a period of six months averaging at least 20 hours per week.
- crime victim is defined to include the victim’s child, foster child, parent, spouse, stepchild or ward who lives with the victim, or a parent of the victim’s spouse
- the law permits employers to adopt a leave policy more generous than the required crime victim leave
- the law does not require providing crime victim leave if the employee’s absence would require closure of a business that is open to the public
Information and Enforcement
The Notice of Employee Rights provides contact information for the Vermont Attorney General Civil Rights Unit which handles private sector complaints and the Vermont Human Rights Commission which handles State employment complaints. Employees who believe their rights have been violated should contact these agencies.
Posting Compliance is a Snap
Ensure your workplace is compliant with the requirement to post the new Notice of Employee Rights. Employers who already have a Vermont All-On-One™ Labor Law Poster or Mobile Poster Pak™ (MPP) can update these products with the Employment Protection for Crime Victims – Notice of Employee Rights Peel ‘N Post™ sticker to affix to the poster or MPP booklet. We’ve also updated the Vermont All-On-One™ Labor Law Poster and Vermont Mobile Poster Pak™ with the new Notice of Employee Rights so a purchasing a new Vermont product is always an option.